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The Magpie Sings the Great Depression:
Selections from DeWitt Clinton High School's Literary Magazine, 1929-1942

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The New Pioneer

Earl Lee, '36

The Magpie, June 1936, v. 20, n. 2., p. 61.

Many years ago, a nation of red men roamed the forests and plains of our continent. They were a simple people, living in harmony with nature. She was their supreme deity who supplied their every want. The Good Spirits of the forests, streams, and earth yielded up food in abundance and their grateful subjects never abused the bountiful dame. Every moon that rose in the heavens saw the red man engaged in weird and fantastic ceremonies symbolizing the gratitude which filled their hearts. In this manner they lived in the forest primeval.

Then came the white man. He gazed upon these simple children of nature and called them savages. His heart became imbued with the noble mission of spreading the civilization of the white man to his unfortunate brothers. But he never civilized the Indians; he killed them instead and kept his civilization for himself.

Like a smoldering fire, this new nation lay glowering in peace and quiet. Then, fanned by a doctrine of equality which was interpreted as a license for greed and avarice, it burst into an all consuming flame, gaining momentum as it swept across the continent in the name of civilization. The ringing of the axe and clouds of smoke announced the destruction of glorious virgin forests and wild foliage. Booming guns heralded the buffalo hunter. Soon the bleached bones of these proud monarchs of the wilderness were strewn across the plains, monuments to destructive greed. In a short time, the buffalo became a rare animal, exhibited along with the Indian on the back of a coin, a memorial to "A Century of Dishonor." The tiny denizens of the forests, wild fowl and song birds, robbed of their nestling places, soon followed the Indian and buffalo into oblivion. Man's iron monster roared across the plain. The wilderness had disappeared.

Man is triumphant; civilization has spread across the continent. Science challenges the very integrity of God Himself. The so celled intellectuals claim to have conquered nature. But un fortunately for the tranquility of the nation, Nature, like an angry mother whose children have been outraged, has just begun to fight back.

Great winds sweep down out of the sky, whipping the top soil from the now barren plains in furious assaults upon the strong holds of civilization. Cities are harassed by these swirling, blinding particles of avenging sand. Life and property are destroyed. Man, with all his great power and knowledge, is helpless before the wrath of nature. The very heavens seem to part. Rain descends in torrents. Streams and rivers rise. The angry flood, inundating homes and land, sweeps down upon a helpless populace. Houses, live. stock, and even human beings, bound for destruction and death, are swept along the raging flood waters. Man is destroyed by his own hand. He cannot, in a moment, replace nature's flood guard. fans which he has uprooted. Nature has satisfied the selfish whims of man and, in doing so, has inflicted the terrible punishment which the angry Greek gods visited upon Tantalus. Man destroyed the beauty of nature to further his wealth. The soil did not avenge by failing to yield crops. Instead, it rewarded man with magnificent harvests. Today, silos are stored with grain and acre upon acre of land lie covered with golden wheat. There is food for all. Yet, amid these fields of plenty, stalks the grim figure of starvation, carrying with him poverty, misery, and discontent. We are now a starving people surfeited with food.

We cannot possibly restore all that we have destroyed. We can however make a conscientious attempt to conserve that natural beauty and wild life which has escaped destruction at our hands. And we can, in our colleges of forestry, engineering, and agriculture educate our new pioneer—the pioneer of conservation rather than of destruction.




The Magpie Sings the Great Depression

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